Israel strikes Gaza after failed UN ceasefire bid

AFP , AP , Ahram Online , Saturday 9 Dec 2023

Israel pressed its offensive in Gaza on Saturday after the United States blocked an extraordinary UN bid to call for a ceasefire in the two-month of genocidal war against the Palestinians.

Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour, flanked by representative of Arab countr
Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour, flanked by representatives of Arab countries, speaks to the press after a UN Security Council meeting on a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza at UN headquarters in New York. AFP

 

The Palestinian Authority, Hamas, along with Russia, China and numerous countries and aid agencies swiftly condemned the US veto as the health ministry put the latest death toll in Gaza at 17,487 people, almost 70 per cent of them women and children.

An Israeli strike on the southern city of Khan Yunis killed six people, while five others died in a separate attack in Rafah, the ministry said Saturday.

Vast areas of Gaza have been reduced to rubble and the UN says about 80 percent of the population has been displaced, with dire shortages of food, fuel, water and medicine reported.

"It's so cold, and the tent is so small. All I have are the clothes I wear, I still don't know what the next step will be," said Mahmud Abu Rayan, displaced from Beit Lahia in the north.

Israeli occupation soldiers rounded up Palestinian men and children in the northern part of the territory for interrogation.

The first images of mass detentions emerged Thursday from the northern town of Beit Lahiya, showing dozens of men kneeling or sitting in the streets, stripped down to their underwear, blindfold and their hands bound behind their backs. Some had their heads bowed.

U.N. monitors said Israeli troops reportedly detained men and boys from the age of 15 in a school-turned-shelter.

A UN Security Council resolution that would have called for an immediate ceasefire was vetoed by the United States on Friday.

US envoy Robert Wood said the resolution was "divorced from reality" and "would have not moved the needle forward on the ground".

Hamas slammed on Saturday the US rejection of the ceasefire bid as "a direct participation of the occupation in killing our people and committing more massacres and ethnic cleansing".

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said it was "a disgrace and another blank cheque given to the occupying state to massacre, destroy and displace".

The veto was swiftly condemned by humanitarian groups, with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) saying the Security Council was "complicit in the ongoing slaughter".

UK-based Save the Children and seven other aid organisations say they were “appalled” at the failure of the UN Security Council on Friday to pass a resolution demanding a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

“If implemented, this would have provided much-needed respite for civilians in Gaza who are under constant bombardment. This was a missed opportunity to stop the violence,” they said in a joint statement.

“We are two months into the crisis and complete siege of Gaza. Gaza is now the deadliest place for civilians in the world.”

Spiralling nightmare
 

Following two months of brutal Israeli war and bombardment, UN chief Antonio Guterres said Friday "the people of Gaza are looking into the abyss".

"People are desperate, fearful and angry," he said.

"All this takes place amid a spiralling humanitarian nightmare."

Many of the 1.9 million Palestinians who have been displaced by the war have headed south, turning Rafah near the Egyptian border into a vast camp.

With the death toll of medical workers in the conflict mounting, more than a dozen World Health Organization member states submitted a draft resolution on Friday that urged Israel to respect its obligations under international law to protect humanitarians in Gaza.

They called for Israel to "respect and protect" medical and humanitarian workers exclusively involved in carrying out medical duties, as well as hospitals and other medical facilities.

Only 14 of the 36 hospitals in the Gaza Strip were functioning in any capacity, according to United Nations' humanitarian agency OCHA.

With the civilian toll mounting, US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Friday that Washington believes Israel needs to do more to protect civilians in the conflict.

"We certainly all recognize more can be done to... reduce civilian casualties. And we're going to keep working with our Israeli counterparts to that end," he said.

The death toll also rose in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where Israeli forces shot dead six Palestinians on Friday, the territory's health ministry said.

 

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